San Francisco is a truly “American” city, with an intersection of many different cultures, ages, genders and lifestyles. With famous tourist attractions like the Golden Gate Bridge, Chinatown, … Therefore, to fully explore this city you need a very detailed San Francisco travel itinerary to not to be miss the most wonderful highlights. So, what to do in San Francisco in 3 days and how to spend 3 days in San Francisco perfectly for first-timers? Let’s check out our suggested San Francisco itinerary 3 days to clear the answer!
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San Francisco is one of the eclectic cities in America. This is an ideal place for those who love freedom, hippies, hipsters, professionals, immigrants, young people with ambitious their dreams. San Francisco has an extremely world wide famous red bridge of Golden Gate, a historical prison on Alcatraz island, delicious food in one of the largest Chinatowns in America (as well as general food) and much more. There are so much interesting things to fill your San Francisco travel itinerary.
Tourist attractions are often spread all over the place and quite difficult to get to each place – it will take a lot of time due to traffic congestion and limited subway system. So this article will help you make the most of your time and explore the city in just three days (3 daysin San Francisco). Our San Francisco travel itinerary below will help you find interesting things to do and see on your upcoming trip to this stunning city.
Read more: San Francisco travel blog — The fullest San Francisco travel guide for a great trip for first-timers.
San Francisco itinerary 3 days: DAY 1
The Golden Gate Bridge
The Golden Gate Bridge is one of San Francisco’s most famous landmarks and also a feat of engineering, the most famous symbol of city. You can walk across the bridge if you want, visit the information center to learn more about the park’s history or just take a look at every angle and take pictures like I did during my time in San Francisco.
Address: Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco, CA, United States
Total length: 2,737 m
Construction started: January 5, 1933
Height: 227 m
Located near the Golden Gate Bridge, you will find this park as you walk along the harbor towards the city center. Crissy Field includes a beautiful beach, restaurants, a fishing jetty and throwing disc areas. Lots of locals come here for jogging, walking with dogs or lying on the beach. From this San Francisco tourist spot you will have a panoramic view of the harbor. There is a small eatery on the west side of the park called Warming Hut – where you can buy drinks and snacks.
Address: 1199 E Beach, San Francisco, CA 94129, United States
Area: 53 ha
Hours: Open 24 hours
The Palace Of Fine Arts
This Roman-style art palace is a remnant of the 1915 Panama-Pacific International Exposition. The Palace’s domed building and its lake are one of the most photographed scenes in the city. Enjoying a leisurely stroll around the lake, relaxing under the dome or enjoying a field picnic on its lawn are some of the activities you can do at The Palace Of Fine Arts. Aside from that, you can also go with a few friends to play giant lumberjack game, throwing bag, ping pong and more. There are many events that are usually held at the Palace of the Arts, so please go to the Palace website for more information.
Address: 3601 Lyon St, San Francisco, CA 94123, United States
Hours: 10AM–5PM/Monday: Closed
Take a tour to visit Alcatraz
The former federal prison on Alcatraz Island was once home to some of the most dangerous criminals in America, the setting for the famou movie Prison Break. The prison was closed in the 1970s and later became a popular tourist attraction in America. It is recommended to take the tour as tour guides will provide you with interesting historical knowledge. Pre-book the ferry ticket to the island early if you come to San Francisco in the summer because it’s the peak season.
3 days in San Francisco: DAY 2
This is the best way to see the city and experience the different neighborhoods of San Francisco. Cable Car is the famous symbol of the city. There are many routes here but let take the cable car from Market Street to Fisherman’s Wharf because the ride is fun and you also can save a lot of time walking up and down the hills. One-way ticket costs USD7, while for whole day is USD21. If you have a CityPASS ticket, it will be convenient because the cable car ticket is included in the PASS.
During your Cable Car ride, you can stop at Lombard Street to see one of the windiest and most zig-zag streets in the world. Starting at Fisherman’s Wharf, take the Powell / Hyde cable car route. Here you will be amazed by the local people as they easily pass through dangerous bends.
One of the other popular tourist destinations in San Francisco is the Coit Tower. The tower is located on top of Telegraph Hill, built in 1933 to help adorn the city and there are 27 frescoes by different artists. From above, you will have a panoramic view of the city. If you don’t get to the top of the tower, you can explore the monuments and murals around the tower. The murals here were painted in 1934 by local artists to depict life in San Francisco in times of crisis. And they have been the subject of some fierce controversy regarding the massive strike so they are locked and protected for months before they have opened again to tourists.
Address: 1 Telegraph Hill Blvd, San Francisco, CA 94133, United States
Height: 64 m
Opened: October 8, 1933
Besides Chinatown in New York, this is the most famous (and also the largest) Chinatown in America. This place should be part of your San Francisco travel itinerary as it is the perfect place to eat Chinese food like dimsum and lucky cookies at Golden Gate Fortune Cookie Factory (Address: 56 Ross Alley, San Francisco, CA 94108, United States/Hours: 9AM–5:30PM), sitting at a teahouse, bar and watching people pass by or visit the souvenir shops.
Take a tour to visit the harbour
Spend an afternoon cruising in San Francisco Bay to see the city from the water is worth a try. You will take many beautiful pictures, learn more about the bay, see some wildlife and experience life on the water. There are many San Francisco travel agencies offer cruise tours, but the cheapest way to get around the bay is to take a public ferry for $7.30. You can view prices and routes on the ferry information website.
San Francisco itinerary 3 days: DAY 3
San Francisco offers many exciting walking tours that can tell you more about the history of eclectic neighborhoods or give you a taste of the city’s fine dining. The two best companies offer these tours are: Local Taste of the City Food Tours and SF City Guides.
Eating at the Ferry Building
The ferry building is a culinary paradise and it is also my top dining spot in San Francisco. Outside the market on weekdays there are many food stalls, and on weekends, there is a large agricultural market. In the market, you will find restaurants and stalls selling specialty foods as well as butchers, cheese makers, wine makers and more.
Museums should definitely be included in your San Francisco travel itinerary. Here are my favorites ones:
- The Beat Museum – dedicated to the literary movement of the Beat generation
- Cable Car Museum – learning about the cable car – something appeared in the city since 1873
- Exploratrium – explore interesting scientific activities
- De Young Art Museum – displays excellent works in many fields from the 17th century onwards
Explore the Golden Gate park
This massive American tourist destination includes a Japanese garden, a museum, a nursery, and lots of hiking trails. Walking through the park will take half a day. You can spend a few hours exploring the place, especially if it’s a sunny day.
Relax with a drink
You can explore some great breweries like The Mission and Castro. These are also two of the best destinations for nightlife. There are also bars and other clubs in the city.
The above San Francisco travel itinerary 3 days will help you suitably organize destinations so you can explore all the sights and activities you want because the city has so much to do, sights to see as well as great places to eat and drink. Although commuting in the city is quite difficult, San Francisco will still make you love.
San Francisco travel blog: Some best day tours, trips, activities and transfer services, tickets in, from and to San Francisco you can refer to
- San Francisco Grand City Tour (with Optional Muir Woods and Sausalito Combo Tour)
- Go San Francisco – All Inclusive Pass
- San Francisco CityPASS
- San Francisco Mega Pass
- Go San Francisco – Explorer Pass
- San Francisco City Tour & Golden Gate Bay Cruise
- San Francisco Museum of Modern Art Ticket
- Golden Gate Bay Cruise
Are you looking for more top things to do in San Francisco: Tours, activities, attractions and other things? Let’s check it out here. And San Francisco travel blog — The fullest San Francisco travel guide for a great trip for first-timers.